Well V Whole
This post was originally posted on the CSRM Blog January 29, 2018
In the world of Sports, Recreation and Fitness (SR&F) Outreach Ministry, we quite obviously tend to focus primarily on the physical fitness component of both ourselves and those we serve. But as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach who specializes in Biblical Health and Wholeness, I see a bigger, more complex picture. It all started when my family had to call an ambulance for me one day while out running errands.
See, I had taken on too much. Like many of us, and many of those we serve, it was hard for me to say no. I did everything anyone asked of me… in addition to my God-given responsibilities. I didn’t want to let anyone down and wanted to look like I had it all together. After all, if I said no, they would think I couldn’t handle it, right? But where it got me was somewhere I never expected to end up. I landed in the ER.
In the process of trying to not fail others, I had failed to care for myself well. I had fallen for the enemy’s lies that whispers, Christians sacrifice. Others come first. You don’t have time to slow down. Maybe you’ve heard those same whispers? But you didn’t know it was from an enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy? He has a way of twisting truth and turning it into a lie. Sacrifice? Caring for others? Great things! And obviously a part of the foundation of our faith in action, but God cares about YOU, too. He cares about those we partner with in our ministries who are running on empty.
We all know that the greatest commandment Jesus gave us was to love our Father in heaven with everything we are. But the second has a component we often leave out. We are told to love others as we love ourselves, but often simplify restate it as: “love others”. Yet, in order to love others as we love ourselves, we must first actually love (and thus care for) ourselves! We aren’t much good to the expansion of the Kingdom, if we aren’t well enough to serve.
I like to teach that in those 2 commandments, there are actually 3. And if we put them in their proper order, it looks like this: We are to love God, love (and care for) ourselves (so that we can), love (and care for) others. God not only gave us the command to rest (Exodus 20:8-11), He also modeled it at creation (Genesis 2:2). However, I’m willing to bet most Christians don’t take it seriously. Jesus also modeled stepping away for times of prayer (Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12… you get the idea), encouraging others to rest (Mark 6:31), clarifying His priorities in ministry (Matthew 15:24), even catching a nap (Mark 4:38)!
I’m sure you’ve seen it. I know I’m not alone in having been there. You may have been down that road also, or know others who have. We live in a culture, even a church culture, that neglects to care for ourselves well. We want good health, but we’d prefer the quick fix offered by the world than look at true wholeness.
While I have been blessed to find the path to healing, many are left to navigate those waters alone. Medical doctors often just want to prescribe a pill to reduce symptoms in the body, psychologists often only look at worldly theories on the brain and mental health, and pastors often only offer prayer. While each of these professionals may have the patient’s best at heart, each may be missing that bigger picture.
There are 3 areas of the whole person that we must address in order to guide people toward true wholeness. God made us with 3 parts: body, mind, and spirit. We must address physical health including diet as well as exercise, we must address mental health and what the Bible says about it, and we must address spiritual health and not simply assume it’s healthy. Many of us, or those we serve, have become experts at masking the real issues. We may look fit, seem sane, and appear spiritual, but under the surface we are a mess. For most, it is a definite struggle to be real in front of others and open up about what’s going on underneath the façade.
But by creating a new culture within your church or ministry that is a safe space to talk about these things, people WILL begin to open up about what they’re facing. By hearing you discuss your own internal or unseen battles, people will be encouraged to do the same and begin to walk toward healing those areas. Remember, leaders must lead by example! You cannot expect your people to be transparent with you if you are not being transparent with them.
We must start addressing health more wholistically- the whole person: body, mind, and spirit, if we want to lead people toward true wellness…toward true wholeness. Begin the conversation with your leaders. Challenge your people to examine their own wholistic health and be willing to work through it with them. (I’ve got a fantastic new resource for this in my shop!) Checking in on their physical, mental, and spiritual health is not only a component of discipleship, but will keep your ministry strong and healthy as well. Burnout benefits no one.
The rest of this year, I’ll be periodically offering new blogs to talk about the specific areas we should be covering as we teach others (and learn for ourselves!) about wholistic health and what that might look like as a component of your ministry. In the meantime, feel free to join me over at http://fixyoureyesonhim.com for other wholistic health tips, resources, and more!